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Stress and Anxiety

Veterans' Voices on Stress and Anxiety

Managing stress and anxiety to live well

Listen to the stories of Veterans who have learned better ways to deal with stress and anxiety. They talk about experiences such as panic attacks and putting too much pressure on themselves. When they connected to resources, they found effective treatment that improved their lives.

What are stress and anxiety?

You may find yourself frequently worrying about small, inconsequential things. Or you may find yourself feeling jumpy and hyper, or becoming angry if anyone disturbs you. Maybe you can’t concentrate on things as well as you used to, or break out in a sweat with your heart racing for no obvious reason. If these symptoms sound familiar, they could be signs of severe stress and anxiety.

Stress and anxiety serve a purpose. They act as the body’s alarm system for dealing with threats or tense situations. The body and even the mind prepare themselves physically and emotionally to deal with danger. But if the alarm never shuts off, stress and anxiety can become overwhelming and make it hard to carry out your daily routine.

“I thought I had put it all behind me so I didn’t know that my anxiety about going into certain situations was related to what I went through in the Persian Gulf.”

Some Veterans experience stress and anxiety because of events that happened in their past—like combat or a traumatic military training experience—that are painful to remember or accept. Other Veterans are dealing with stress and anxiety because of other life experiences, like changing jobs or family conflicts.

Severe stress and anxiety sometimes cause physical symptoms, like trembling or shaking; or can have an effect in other ways, such as feelings of panic or unease. Over time, stress and anxiety can interfere with your work or daily activities and strain your relationships.

What can I do if I’m experiencing stress and anxiety?

  • Get enough rest
  • Try to plan your day and keep a schedule to help you manage the feeling of being out of control
  • Practice relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, to help cope when things upset you or don’t go according to plan
  • Take time several times a week to do something you enjoy, like seeing a movie or visiting friends

“My counselors at VA showed me different techniques on how to deal with my anxiety attacks. They’ve given me a guide on how to live, because the anxiety stopped me from living because I shut myself off.”

It’s important to find ways to reduce stress and anxiety—at high levels they can be harmful and may be associated with chronic disease. Your close friends and family may notice the effects stress and anxiety are having on your quality of life. Turn to them when you are ready to look for solutions. It can be helpful to share what you’re experiencing with them, and they may be able to provide support.

Take the next step – Make the connection.

Every day, Veterans who served in the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard connect with useful resources and effective treatments for dealing with stress and anxiety. If severe stress and anxiety are affecting your health and well-being or getting in the way of your relationships, work, or daily activities, you may want to reach out for support. Consider connecting with:

  • Your family doctor: Ask if your doctor has experience treating Veterans or can refer you to someone who does
  • A mental health professional, such as a therapist
  • Your local VA Medical Center or Vet Center: VA specializes in the care and treatment of Veterans
  • A spiritual or religious advisor

Explore these resources for more information about stress and anxiety in Veterans.

Learn more about the possible associations between stress and anxiety and other issues such as feeling on edgedepression, and posttraumatic stress.
Learn more about and see what other Veterans and Service members have done to deal with stress and anxiety.

Vet Center
If you are a combat Veteran or experienced any sexual trauma during your military service, bring your DD214 to your local Vet Center and speak with a counselor or therapist—many of whom are Veterans themselves—for free, without an appointment, and regardless of your enrollment status with VA.

Manage Stress Workbook
Pay attention to your level of stress, which can affect your health and feelings of well-being. Stress comes in many forms, and can have a negative impact if it continues for too long or feels overwhelming. This workbook can help you manage and reduce your stress.

VA Medical Center Facility Locator
Stress and anxiety may be symptoms of other health issues that may need treatment. This website will allow you to search for VA programs located near you. If you are eligible to receive care through the Veterans Health Administration, you can enroll in one of VA’s treatment programs located near you.

Listen: Browse the video gallery to find stories most relevant to you. Locate: Find resources near you that can help get your life back on track.